On October 7, 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a new bill (S.6678-A) into law requiring that all physicians' practice settings conspicuously post signage, visible to their patients, directing such patients to OPMC’s website for information about their rights and how to report professional misconduct. OPMC itself is also being directed to post on its website information on patients' rights and reporting options regarding professional misconduct, which shall specifically include information on reporting instances of misconduct involving sexual harassment and assault.
One of the justifications for proposing this legislation is that OPMC’s website has to date offered no guidance on sexual harassment reporting and has not specifically referenced its role in receiving such complaints of sexual harassment and assault by medical professionals.
The Medical Society of the State of New York (“MSSNY”) has been strongly opposed to this legislation and is currently conferring with legal counsel to determine if there is any legal recourse to overturn this legislation. In a press statement from MSSNY, it has articulated its position that it is concerned with the “distrust and unnecessary anxiety that will be created by a mandate that every physician post a readily noticeable sign in their office.” MSSNY is of the opinion that “[w]e believe this law unfairly singles out physicians—as opposed to any type of health care provider or other professional—for this signage requirement” and that “[l]egislation such as this will only serve to discourage more physicians from wanting to practice in the State of New York, threatening patient access to needed specialized care.”
The law is intended to take effect immediately based on the express terms in the bill, although the Department of Health has not yet specifically identified its time frame for compliance.
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